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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A colourful tale...
It began with Celie. Writing letters to God. Under the strong instruction from her father never to tell anyone but God about his abuse, that is who Celie turns to.
This book is written in the form of correspondence, an exchange of letters that as often as not doesn't end up being read by the intended readers for most of a lifetime.
There is abuse, child abuse,...
Published on 22 Dec 2005 by Kurt Messick

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too contrived
I know that I read this book when it first came out and loved it, however, time has past and other books, much better books dealing with the theme of Africans being sold as slaves to work the farms in America and the hardships of growing up in America have been published and so now I am comparing this re-reading to these others and as a result, feel that we put far too...
Published on 10 Oct 2012 by ronix


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too contrived, 10 Oct 2012
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
I know that I read this book when it first came out and loved it, however, time has past and other books, much better books dealing with the theme of Africans being sold as slaves to work the farms in America and the hardships of growing up in America have been published and so now I am comparing this re-reading to these others and as a result, feel that we put far too much hype on this story when it was first published.

Celie, is an uneducated young girl who has been raped by her "father" (we only discover at the end that in fact he was her step-father) and has two children as a result.

He gives her away to Mr .......... (we're never given the name of the man which irritated me). He beats her and treats her badly until Shug Avery (Mr ......'s mistress) comes to live with them because she is so ill and Celie falls in love with her. Shug teaches Celie how to stand up for herself. Celie also learns that she far prefers women to men.

The book is written in the form of letters Celie writes to God and slowly her story unfolds and we learn about her mother, her sister Nettie who has gone off to Africa as part of a missionary family and her love for Shug.

I think that when I first read this book I had nothing to compare it to. Now that I do, I find the whole story contrived. Nettie suddenly coming back after supposedly being killed in a ship sinking - too easy to make a" happy ever after" feeling to the book and we also have Celie inheriting a huge house and land, no sorry, far too contrived.
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A colourful tale..., 22 Dec 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
It began with Celie. Writing letters to God. Under the strong instruction from her father never to tell anyone but God about his abuse, that is who Celie turns to.
This book is written in the form of correspondence, an exchange of letters that as often as not doesn't end up being read by the intended readers for most of a lifetime.
There is abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, pain that no one should have to go through. They go through it. Celie is a strong enough person to realise that her father might not stop with her, and feels protective of her younger sister.
'Sometime he still be looking at Nettie, but I always git in his light. Now I tell her to marry Mr. _____. I don't tell her why. I say Marry him, Nettie, an try to have one good year out your life. After that, I know she be big.'
Celie delivered children of her father, children who were cast away, presumably dead (although Celie has the intuition to know better).
Celie put up with separation from loved ones, and a loveless, unfaithful marriage, playing second-fiddle to a more flamboyant mistress, Shug Avery. And Celie was raised not to know she deserved better.
She deserved better.
Shug Avery ironically was one who helped teach her that. There was a friendship beyond words that developed, a realisation of humanity and caring beyond the abuses of the world; Shug was neglected by her father, a pain that cut her almost as deep as Celie's pain.
But Celie found out something. Alphonso, her Pa, wasn't her Pa--he was a step. The children weren't to be shunned. The worst sin was mitigated just a bit.
And Celie and Nettie found out more. The land and house belonged to them, not to 'Pa', but rather their real daddy, who left it to them and their mother.
This is a painful story. It is a hopeful story. The courage of the women against family and societal tyranny is strong, but the courage against their own fears and shortcomings is even stronger.
Now, you may be asking, what right does a white man have in reviewing this kind of book? White people are very peripheral in the story, never central, never figuring more than just side characters, and not very human ones at that. I review this book in the hopes that it will be more widely read by those of every colour, as it gives insight into a different side of the human condition that is so far beyond my experience that, without this book, I would never have realised such things are possible.
Such despair. Such longing. Such courage. Such victory.
God is present even in the pain, even in the absence, and Celie resists (much more than I would, or indeed do in less severe circumstances) to judge God. She may be angry at times, but always faithful in her own way.
She believes in her family, even when it isn't deserved. She believes in herself in the end, when it is needed.
The Color Purple -- what does that mean? This is the symbol of God. The royal colour, the sign that all can see, that God is present and has a plan for beauty. This story is beautiful, even in its darkest moments.
'Well, us talk and talk bout God, but I'm still adrift. Trying to chase that old white man out of my head. I been so busy thinking bout him I never truly notice nothing God make. Not a blade of corn (how it do that?) not the color purple (where it come from?). Not the little wildflowers. Nothing.'
Celie learns to see. Learns to love. Even to forgive a little. She finds the love of God in her family.
I am richer for having read this story. I think everyone would be.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A womanist triumph!, 16 May 2003
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
'The Color Purple' is an intriguing and insightful window into the life of young Celie. Expressed in letter form we journey with Celie through the torments facing her in the deep South of America. She suffers abuse at the hands of the man she refers to as her 'Father' and the easy-to-follow letter format of the novel means that almost anyone can tap into the world of Celie. Friends described it as Feminist, though I struggled with this term. Others called it 'anti-male'. Though it is true that many traditional patriarchal images are challenged in the novel, the horrors of some of the male characters are not the main focus of the novel, nor do any of the female characters of the novel challenge to any great extent the male characters. The novel's purpose is to highlight and to celebrate the resilience and sisterhood of Women. It is a Womanist rather than feminist novel. Despite the horrors faced by Celie, Sophia and others, they endure, remain hopeful and find happiness. The seductive beauty represented by Shug Avery's cosmopolitan yet sensitive image to Celie is strangely taken on board by the reader. As for Walker's discussion of God and his/her role, the text is thought provoking without overtly challenging. The challenges that do exist are expressed through the innocence of ignorance, evoking in the readers mind questions, or even notions that one cannot help but debate later if not with others in our own minds. Do we need to go to church to have a relationship with God? God's cathartic role, and the extent to which this can be transferred to other important influences in one's life. Is the grass ever greener? The Color Purple allows a middle class lad from the UK a unique if limited window into an otherwise unknown world, unknown perspective and richly debatable content... Buy it!
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, 5 Aug 2007
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
I saw the film a long time ago. I bought the book around the same time but as often happens with me, I didnt read it because I had just seen the movie and I 'knew what happened'. Then when it made it to our book group short list, and black history month was coming up, I went to look for my book, and I couldnt find it. So off I went into town to hopefully find one. I found one copy in the bookshop.

I started reading it a little half-heartedly since I wanted to read something cheerful and I really didnt remember the film being that cheerful. Anyway, I persevered, and found myself really involved in the story. I put the dvd on expecting it to be really depressing (from memory) and it was really really good. I picked the book up again, waiting for bits in the movie to take place in the book, but the book is slightly different. The general story and the outcome is the same but inbetween is fuller somehow. When I saw the film the first time, I focused on the abuse and the beatings and the miserable existence that Celie has, but that really is a small part of it compared to all the good things that happen to her in the end.

She says to her rotten wife-beating husband:

'Until you do right by me, everything you touch will crumble. Everything you even dream about will fail'

I guess that's a case of what goes around comes around because that's what happens. Treat people mean and expect to be treated the same way. Celie is nice to everyone, even the rotten husband, but in the end things do go right for her. Reading this book made me feel better about life in general. There is hope, people say nice guys finish last, but maybe they run a better race.

The Color Purple is set in 1909+ in the South, the story of a poor, ill-educated, abused, 'ugly*' black woman, writing letters to God and her sister and her sister writing back. The whole book is a series of letters. I would recommend to everyone and has become one of my favourite books.

(*ugly because she is told so many times in the book, until finally someone loves her and tells her she is beautiful)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOWWWWWWWW, 3 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
Excellent read! i would recommend this book to everyone! and i already have :P If you're interested in a more spiritual existence this is for you!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just meaningful but a good story to boot, 7 May 2007
By 
Helen Simpson (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
The whole book is a collection of letters, whether they be to God or between Celie and her sister Nettie, and they read like a diary which I found easy to read.

My first impression after reading only a few pages, was how primitive the characters appeared to be, and they are in many ways, but they're also wonderfully uncomplicated and honest.

The letters from Africa were fascinating and we learn in an interesting and very real way how the African people themselves played a part in slavery. We also gain an understanding of the frustration and injustice of how land and tribes were desecrated in the name of 'improvement' and industry.

I don't think that all the men in this novel were described negatively as some reviewers have suggested. Celie's 'Pa' and Mr________ did treat her badly and were very aggressive and cruel but we see the family cycle borne out in Harpo and how he struggles to understand why he feels he should treat women like his pa but isn't succeeding because Sofia won't put up with his bullying.

Samuel in contrast is shown as a very compassionate person and Celie and Nettie's real pa is described as being very successful as well as '...having a wife whom he adored...'.

The over riding story is about human spirit and strength of character. Love and respect. The strongest line in the book for me is when Celie tells Mr________

"I'm pore, I'm black, I may be ugly and can't cook...but I'm here."

Amen indeed!

What goes around comes around and Celie's 'curse' aimed at Mr________was justified and correct. By the end of the book Mr_________ has gone on his own journey of discovery and realisation and Celie and his relationship is uplifting and mature.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Womanist triumph..., 27 Dec 2001
This review is from: The Color Purple (Hardcover)
'The Color Purple' is an intriguing and insightful window into the life of young Celie. Expressed in letter form we journey with Celie through the torments facing her in the deep South of America. She suffers abuse at the hands of the man she refers to as her 'Father' and the easy-to-follow letter format of the novel means that almost anyone can tap into the world of Celie. Friends described it as Feminist, though I struggled with this term. Others called it 'anti-male'. Though it is true that many traditional patriarchal images are challenged in the novel, the horrors of some of the male characters are not the main focus of the novel, nor do any of the female characters of the novel challenge to any great extent the male characters. The novel's purpose is to highlight and to celebrate the resilience and sisterhood of Women. It is a Womanist rather than feminist novel. Despite the horrors faced by Celie, Sophia and others, they endure, remain hopeful and find happiness. The seductive beauty represented by Shug Avery's cosmopolitan yet sensitive image to Celie is strangely taken on board by the reader. As for Walker's discussion of God and his/her role, the text is thought provoking without overtly challenging. The challenges that do exist are expressed through the innocence of ignorance, evoking in the readers mind questions, or even notions that one cannot help but debate later if not with others in our own minds. Do we need to go to church to have a relationship with God? God's cathartic role, and the extent to which this can be transferred to other important influences in one's life. Is the grass ever greener? The Color Purple allows a middle class lad from the UK a unique if limited window into an otherwise unknown world, unknown perspective and richly debatable content... Buy it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brave & Inspired, 29 Mar 2010
By 
JennyD (Manchester, Uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
I really liked this book, more so because I didn't expect to like it. I thought I wouldn't like the style of writing. I also didn't know if I'd like the fact the story is told through a series of letters, I thought this was a short-cut and akin to cheating. But after reading the first few pages I really got into the book, the dialect aspect was quite refreshing. It gave it more atmosphere and made the characters seem more alive & vibrant.

Most people know the general story of the book so it seems pointless to go into it here but I'll try to sum it up. It's about a young black woman, Celie, who suffers horribly at the hands of her father before being passed to another man to be his wife. Here, she is basically used as a slave and is expected to do all the housework and raise the children her `husband' had with another woman. Of course she's also forced to have sex with her `husband' and is beaten up on occasion. There are quite few characters, male and female who the story briefly touches on but mainly the focus is on Celie and Shug. I was quite surprised to discover Celie was a lesbian and that she loves Shug.

There's a lot to admire in this book, there's the lesbian story line between two black women and that fact Walker doesn't just blame all the `white folk' for the lives the African Americans have. I was intrigued when Nellie wrote to Celie about Africa, describing old civilisations that once existed there. It really made me think. Walker was even brave enough to mention that African `brothers and sisters' sold other Africans to slavers. I also really liked how Walker compares racism with sexism; men treat women in much the same way that white people treated black people, as if they were objects. Obviously the comparison only goes so far but it's an interesting idea nonetheless. I did get abit bored towards the end, it went abit odd in places and I really didn't buy Mr------ (Celie's husband) transformation, it felt forced and unrealistic. I loved the idea that gradually Africans start having white children and they are forced to leave for being different, end up in the West and elsewhere and create their own civilisations. It's a very clever book that offers insights into two big prejudices, colour/race and sex.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a story of hope and inspiration which won over this cynical reader. Love conquers all, 14 Mar 2010
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
There's a lot to hate about this novel. First, the epistolary format sometimes makes the plot and chronology a little hard to follow; second the use of sometimes-hard-to-decipher vernacular is difficult; finally the socio-politics. Like I said there's a lot to hate, but these are what make the novel so powerful.

Celie, a poor black woman, writes first-hand from her oppressed life in the (mainly) pre-war Deep South, first to God, then to her beloved and long-lost sister. Alice Walker's portrait chronicles sexual abuse in childhood and adulthood, violence, poverty, racial prejudice (in the obvious US schism between black and white, but also in Africa), and the desperation of finding meaning in the face of such relentless adversity.

Despite the continuing cultural importance of these issues, they remain disturbing, especially in the explicit manner that they are conveyed here, to the degree that this book has been challenged for blacklisting. Such a novel always risks slipping down the slippery slope of cliche or worse, pandering to the artist's desire to shock. However through the novel, although my hackles were vigilant to such manifestations of insincerity, they remained unwoken.

What makes Alice Walker such a skilful storyteller is her ability to weave such difficult but well-covered issues into the story, to make them live and relevant. This is a story of hope and inspiration (I never thought I'd ever write that...) which won over this cynical reader. Love conquers all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and true, 1 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Color Purple (Paperback)
This is a deeply religious book, in a couple of different senses. First of all, the main character, Celie, narrates the book through letters she writes to God. She is trapped in abusive relationships, first with Pa and then with her husband Albert, referred to by her as Mr ______. She writes to God because she has nobody else to talk to after her sister Nettie disappears, believed dead. Gradually, through her relationship with Shug Avery and piecing together the truth about her past, she rids herself of the traditional view of God as an old white man and comes to view God as a more creative, loving, playful entity, symbolised by the colour purple, put in a field just for the fun of it. Celie finds her sexuality, her ability to stand up for herself, begins to make a living doing something she loves and starts to like life.

It's religious in another sense because Alice Walker has tapped into something deep and rich in creating this book. She starts by dedicating it to "The Spirit, without whose assistance neither this book nor I would have been written" and ends it by writing "I thank everyone in this book for coming. A.W., author and medium." This sets up quite an expectation, but the book delivers. The style is not literary - it can't be, because it's narrated mostly by Celie, who is uneducated and admits herself she can't write well. But still there is a beauty in its simplicity. Normally any kind of dialect begins to irritate me after a while, but this doesn't. It is powerful. The horrific events at the beginning of the book, particularly, when 14-year-old Celie is raped by her father and has two children by him, then sacrifices herself to save her younger sister Nettie from the same fate, are incredibly powerful, and the power is heightened by the simple, childish language.

It's also a political book, in the best sense. It evokes the injustices of the Jim Crow South and of colonial Africa beautifully, and they always feel like part of the story, not like a political sermon. It works well because character always comes first. Everybody in the book has a character - there are no purely symbolic characters or representatives of political positions. They're all introduced and drawn carefully so that I believed they were real and cared about them. And while the book speaks some harsh truths about men, and white men in particular, nobody is a stereotype of evil - most of the characters have some redeeming features, and the "good" characters have flaws too.

A beautiful, insightful book.
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The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Paperback - 5 Aug 2004)
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